Move of the Week: Back Strength
This week’s exercises focus on increasing back strength with a sequence of three exercises you can easily do at home. By strengthening your back, you will be actively promoting good posture and if need be, correcting poor posture.
I’m a firm believer in working exercise into your daily life. Even with as little as 15 minutes every other day, you will notice that you feel stronger. A little bit goes a long way.
Ideally it is good to exercise for at least 30 minutes on a daily basis. Exercise isn’t limited to working out in a gym or taking a fitness class. You could count an active session in the garden as your 30 minutes.
Try to vary the types of exercises and movements you do so you get a good mix of cardio, strength, mobility, and flexibility in your workouts.
Due to the nature of our sedentary lifestyle, many people suffer from rounded shoulders. If you continually strengthen your back and stretch your chest, you can eliminate poor posture. This will improve posture, make you look slimmer (simply from not slouching anymore), and give your confidence a boost as you walk around tall and proud.
Prone Back Extension
1. Lie face down with your hands resting under your forehead. Gently press your pubic bone toward the floor to lengthen your lower back. This can also make it easy to activate your lower abdominals.
2. Inhale as you lift your head, shoulders, and arms away from the floor. Keep your feet on the mat.
3. Exhale as you lower them back down. Repeat this 12–16 times.
4. You don’t need to lift very high, as that would make your lower back overwork. Emphasize a gentle squeeze between your shoulder blades so your upper and middle back are the main areas getting the workout.
1. This move has the same set-up position as the previous exercise.
2. Inhale as you lift your upper body and lower body away from the mat, extending your arms out in front of you.
3. Start the lift, with arms and legs up and down in a freestyle swimming motion. It is just a small repetitive movement of up and down as you breathe naturally.
4. Try to keep the movement going for anywhere between thirty seconds and one minute.
5. If you feel strain in your lower back, keep your head and shoulders on the floor and just do the kicking motion with your legs.
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart.
2. Inhale and then exhale as you gently press your lower back toward the floor and lift your body up into the bridge position.
3. Inhale and hold that position. Then exhale and start to lower your back toward the floor.
4. Repeat this up to six times.
5. This exercise promotes mobility in the spine. When you are lifting up and lowering down, go slowly, aiming to lower one vertebra at a time. Imagine that your spine is a like a string of pearls and that you are lowering it pearl by pearl.
You can perform these exercises in any order. Teamed together, they are the perfect balance of strength and mobility. Both are important for a healthy, strong spine.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.